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Fort St. John Dental Clinic Blog

Can my dentist tell if I have sleep apnea?

Can my dentist tell if I have sleep apnea?

Were you aware that your dentist may be able to spot signs of sleep apnea? If during your regular oral hygiene checkup your Fort St. John dentist sees signs of sleep apnea, they will alert you so you can make an appointment with your physician. 

Do you often find yourself always waking up tired, even after sleeping all night? If so, this may be more than a case of just not being a morning person. You may have sleep apnea, and dentists are often the first to notice signs of this serious sleep disorder. 

When an individual suffers from sleep apnea, their breathing will be repeatedly interrupted while they sleep. These pauses can be caused by a lack of respiratory effort, physical blockage of airflow, or a combination of both. Pauses can last anywhere from a few seconds to minutes and may occur 30 or more times per hour. 

Signs of Sleep Apnea Your Dentist May Notice 

Your dentist might be the first professional to notice or ask whether you've been having symptoms of sleep apnea. Here are some signs of the condition dentists often see:

  • Receding or inflamed gums 
  • Tongue with scalloped edges 
  • Worn tooth surfaces 
  • Teeth grinding (bruxism), which may cause wear and breakage 
  • Spike in cavities due to damage to teeth as a result of grinding 
  • Redness in the throat (caused by excessive snoring) 

If a physical blockage of airflow is causing sleep apnea, the condition is called Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). OSA is the most common form of sleep apnea. 

Other symptoms of OSA include choking or gasping while attempting to sleep, waking frequently during the night, night sweats, morning headaches, loud snoring, high blood pressure, and dry mouth when waking. 

As you might imagine, these symptoms can cause the quality of a patient's sleep to deteriorate leave them feeling fatigued throughout the day. Sleep apnea is also linked to a greater risk of heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes. 

How can my dentist help?

Dentists cannot diagnose sleep apnea. However, they are often some of the first people who can spot symptoms or let you know if you have an increased risk of developing the condition since your jaws and related structures can contribute to OSA.

Your dentist can conduct a dental exam and take X-rays of your neck and mouth, which might reveal abnormally large tissues in the throat or other blockage in the airway. If they notice any physical blockages they will recommend you visit your doctor.

Are you interested in learning more about sleep apnea? Contact our Fort St. John dental office today. We are always happy to answer your questions or recommend you see your doctor. 

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